Lawrence Solomon on consensus statistics

 

Click for source of satirical graph

Lawrence Solomon in the Financial Post writes:

The ‘scientific consensus’ about global warming turns out to have a lot more to do with manipulating the numbers

How do we know there’s a scientific consensus on climate change? Pundits and the press tell us so. And how do the pundits and the press know? Until recently, they typically pointed to the number 2,500 — that’s the number of scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Those 2,500, the pundits and the press believed, had endorsed the IPCC position.

To their embarrassment, most of the pundits and press discovered they were mistaken — those 2,500 scientists hadn’t endorsed the IPCC’s conclusions, they had merely reviewed some part or other of the IPCC’s mammoth studies. To add to their embarrassment, many of those reviewers from within the IPCC establishment actually disagreed with the IPCC’s conclusions, sometimes vehemently.

The upshot? The punditry looked for and found an alternative number to tout: “97% of the world’s climate scientists” accept the consensus, articles in the Washington Post, the U.K.’s Guardian, CNN and other news outlets now claim, along with some two million postings in the blogosphere.

This number will prove a new embarrassment to the pundits and press who use it. The number stems from a 2008 master’s thesis by student Maggie Kendall Zimmerman at the University of Illinois, under the guidance of Peter Doran, an associate professor of Earth and environmental sciences. The two researchers obtained their results by conducting a survey of 10,257 Earth scientists. The survey results must have deeply disappointed the researchers — in the end, they chose to highlight the views of a subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to climate change.  The ratio 75/77 produces the 97% figure that pundits now tout.

Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats/#ixzz1A5px63Ax

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81 thoughts on “Lawrence Solomon on consensus statistics

  1. So all this was based on a simple survey? One key rule about understanding surveys is to know what the questions are:

    1 When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    2 Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

  2. As usual, the prolific pro-AGW commenter begins his gatekeeping activities (at the FP link). Thankfully there are reality-defenders blocking his blocking.

    This has become a mass insanity. Will it ever end? I don’t think so. Many people I talk to are inherently unable to accept that they have been fooled, and will make incredible leaps of logic to justify an unjustifiable belief.

    It may be generations before people can finally look back at this mass insanity objectively enough to see it for what it is.

  3. Cherry-picking! What do you mean “cherry-picking”? All they did was throw out 10,180 “outliers” to improve the consistency of the sample. :-)

  4. Since the basic “science” is fake, why not fake the number of people who support it as well? In for a dime, in for a dollar.

    it does show that out and out Fraud has taken place at *Every* level of the Warming Cult. It is no longer possible – in fact it has not been possible for some time – for any honest and honorable person to support this nonsense.

    Our opponents are not honest, and they are not honorable. Never forget that when dealing with them.

  5. The paraphrase Shakespeare : “The devil can site statistics for his own purpose.” I believe it came from one of my engineering classes back i the ’60s.

  6. The big light bulb just went off in my head.

    I now understand the methodology that shows global warming is real. It simply boils down to a perpetual elimination of data that contradicts the desired outcome. That is what climate science is, just weed out any useful data until you are proven right. It actually fits everything they do. GISS, GHCN, everything. A perfect correlation.

    John Kehr
    The Inconvenient Skeptic

  7. I have always said the mathematics were dubious. If you’re a reporter, and you don’t understand statistics or calculus, just make it up, it’s easy.

  8. Wow….an overwhelming majority of the cherry-picked 77 scientists agree with the IPCCs conclusions. I wonder if Ms Zimmerman was coerced into fabricating this “majority” in order to receive her MS degree.

    Dr. Doran is no scientist.

  9. Over the Holidays someone was using this figure during a discussion and they mentioned that some 10,000+ scientists were recently surveyed and the results were 97% believed in AGW…I suspected he was pulling it out of his rear-end. Well, it was coming from a rear-end, however it wasn’t his rear-end he was pulling it from. Figures.

  10. So why can’t we do our own survey? We can keep it relatively short but still have more complex/informative questions like asking what % of the increase in heat is due to human activity and ask what they think (on a 5 point scale) of other “causes” (e.g. UHI, LIA recovery, solar/oceanic, etc).

  11. You have to admire the persistence of statistics lovers. So many ways to lie, so little time to do it in.

  12. Having done survey research for 20 years I can tell you for certain that the wording of the questions, the sample technique, sample size, the interview method (personal, telephone, mail), question type (true/false, multiple choice, rating scale, open ended, etc.) and even the positioning of the questions relative to each other will effect outcome. Of course, cherry picking is best for obtaining the result one wants.

  13. In other news, 97% of Baptist Ministers believe in God.

    @CodeTech – it wouldn’t surprise me to see people still believing in AGW during the deepest cold of the next Ice Age. People’s ability to justify their belief in the face of such blatant hypocrisy is quite amazing.

  14. Ralph Hall, U.S. Congress, Texas

    Chairman of the Science Committee

    Any one who cares to help Congressmand Ralph Hall the new chairman of the science committee in the U.S. House please contact his office and ask for his lead assistant on that committee.

    Janet Poppoeton

    202-225-6673 in D.C.

    Ralph Hall is not afraid of the msm or Al Gore.

    He needs real help with real facts.

    APACHEWHOKNOWS

  15. 77.1 per cent of all statistics cited as supporting the AGW hypothesis are spontaneously extracted from the overheated ‘ether’. 72 of 38 AGW scientists surveyed (189.5%) agree. That settles it……

  16. That’s good to know. I had someone throw the 97% figure at me only the other day :p. My only rebuttal was that science wasn’t done by consensus. Well, it seems I was right: there is no consensus!

  17. “…just 3,146, or 30.7%, answered the two key questions on the survey… 82% of the Earth scientists replied that that human activity had significantly contributed to the warming. … In any case, the two researchers must have feared that an 82% figure would fall short of a convincing consensus — almost one in five wasn’t blaming humans for global warming — so they looked for a subset that would yield a higher percentage. They found it… The researchers thus decided to tout responses by those Earth scientists who not only published mainly on climate but also identified themselves as climate scientists. … Once all these cuts were made, 75 out of 77 scientists of unknown qualifications were left endorsing the global warming orthodoxy.”

    That says it all. It would be like taking a survey asking if union workers do a better job than non-union workers, and then excluding all respondents except union members who have published articles on the benefits of unions. If that’s not cherry picking, nothing is.

  18. It all simply confirms my assertion that 84.6% of statistics are made up.
    (and to add weight to your manufactured numbers, add a decimal point or two; it is so much more convincing than “about 80% of statistics are made up.”)

  19. On the reasonable assumption this is correct, then the IPCC should do the decent thing and either announce its immediate disbandment or make a public announcement it will no longer write expensive fantasy.

    Going from 10,257 to 77 makes even Mannian Maths look accurate.

  20. “The number stems from a 2008 master’s thesis by student Maggie Kendall Zimmerman at the University of Illinois, under the guidance of Peter Doran, an associate professor of Earth and environmental sciences.”

    A Master’s thesis? WTF?!???

    I now have a new-found appreciation for the Earth and Environmental Sciences program at the Univ. of Illinois. It has nothing to do with Earth and Environmental Sciences.

  21. I really don’t believe that there is anything wrong here. If they really had been playing with data wouldn’t it have come out to 100%?

  22. An example of getting the predetermined answer that you wanted and of absolutely horrible scientific method on the part of everyone involved.

  23. erik sloneker says:
    January 4, 2011 at 11:19 am
    Wow….an overwhelming majority of the cherry-picked 77 scientists agree with the IPCCs conclusions.
    ———————————————————————————–

    Regarding the other two of the 79 scientists, rumor has it that one has been reassigned to the Ivory Coast and the other to Somalia…:-)

  24. Question 2 does not even mention CO2. Nor does it incorporate the first question, so it can be answered without regard to the direction of temperature change, or the era for which any change is considered relevant.

    The 97% agreement is therefore only that some degree of human causation exists for the temperature going either up or down (not staying the same) during the span of human history on the planet.

    This means that any paraphrase of this study’s conclusion of 97% agreement that specifically refers to CO2, warming, or the fossil fuel era is not based on the question that was actually asked.

  25. Some years ago, I would have been flabergasted by this revelation. However, nowadays, nothing surprises me about the robustness of their data, the science underpinning the theory (or more accurately conjecture) or the statistical methods of analysis employed.

  26. Is this the same study that Oreskes uses and gets quoted by the AGW blogs? They also use the term 97 percent of “publishing climate scientists”.

  27. If there was this consensus we would be feeling the effect on WUWT. Your site posts all sorts of well written and thoughtful objections to the “consensus” opinion and invites comments from readers. The comments threads often turn into discussions about the underlying science and interpretation of that science, often between scientists, and the merits of the article are put through the fire of open debate.

    If there are all these scientists who have been convinced that the IPCC have got it right they would be challenging the postings and putting their views across. The reality is that most people who are interested in open debate are sceptical of the IPCC reports and looking for explanations of climate variability that do not rely on simplistic theories of CO2 induced warming such as are found in the IPCC reports.

    By the way Nature are in a panic about why no one believes in global warming any more: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110104/full/news.2011.701.html
    I am sure their are plenty of readers of WUWT who could give them a better explanation than found in their article.

  28. Anyhow… a consensus of opinions is just that: opinions; especially when they’re influenced by grants, politics and ideology. Only facts count to me. I want real proofs that their computer models tell the truth. So far they’ve failed to convince me.

  29. Anyone in the UK who now runs an advert that even mentions the “consensus” is an idiot because there’s no way on earth the Advertising Standards Authority will accept this bogus idea now!

    To rephrase an old advert:
    “9/10 cats prefer [CAT-FOOD]“

    now becomes:

    9/10 cats that already eat [CAT-FOOD] and have been specially selected because they are the types of cat that like [CAT-FOOD] and whose owners also want their cats to like [CAT-FOOD] because they have a financial interest in [CAT-FOOD] … were said to prefer [CAT-FOOD]

  30. Wow, I don’t know what were the survey questions but from their numbers, a big 0.73 % of the Earth scientists thought humans contributed to climate change. (i.e. 75/10,257)

  31. Well I guess I’ll just have to surrender! After all, dozens of “climate scientists” couldn’t possibly be wrong, could they?

  32. Ugh. She got her Master’s Thesis for what amounts to a small Blog Post of statistical work.

    Also, anyone submitting a conclusion based on polling data from 77 people should be laughed out of the room when she presents it.

  33. Still on the old “consensus” bandwagon. I do not like bandwagons. Who makes those damn things anyway? Sorry Piers, but “the coming ice age” is also a bandwagon. It IS coming, but no one can say with absolute certainty when. Fortunately the AGW bandwagon has been recalled due to major mechanical failures throughout the vehicle.

  34. Forgot to mention, cudos to Lawrence Solomon for his efforts!! All journalists should do as much homework as Solomon does.

  35. “CodeTech says: January 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

    This has become a mass insanity. Will it ever end? I don’t think so. Many people I talk to are inherently unable to accept that they have been fooled, and will make incredible leaps of logic to justify an unjustifiable belief.

    It may be generations before people can finally look back at this mass insanity objectively enough to see it for what it is.”

    Admitting one is wrong is hard, except for those of us who are married. We’re used to it!

    Seriously when you try to talk to people about it I usually get one of these:

    A) You can pay scientists to say anything and big oil has lots of money.
    B) You are just a crazy conspiracy nut.
    C) No that isn’t true

    Total denial even when faced with verifiable facts. My favorite was one who refused to accept that water vapor was the major greenhouse gas. It just has to be CO2.

  36. Is this ‘thesis’ available online anywhere? I’d like to know the real figures!
    Also, as an earth scientist, I certainly don’t recall being asked about AGW, or seeing anything about it – so presumably, they only asked US earth scientists folks?
    And finally, if the MSc was awarded on the basis of a fraudulent or flawed thesis, (what did it actually conclude?) surely that cannot be correct (its some years ago since I did mine, but a thesis would normally be reviewed by at least one external reviewer/examiner?)

  37. They would’ve had a little to show for if them 75 mega hippie minds actually would have known instead of mere thought.

  38. To borrow and expand upon a comment left at the Solomon post site:

    “This just in: A shocking 97% of unemployed persons polled support continuing of unemployment benefits”

  39. TimM @ January 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Perhaps we could sue to ban Di-hydrogen Monoxide in its gaseous form. A Supreme Court which would find CO2 to be a pollutant would probably do so for H2O as well.

  40. Maggie comes fleet foot
    Face full of black soot
    Talkin’ that the heat put
    Plants in the bed but
    The phone’s tapped anyway
    Maggie says that many say
    They must bust in early May
    Orders from the D.A.
    Look out kid
    Don’t matter what you did
    Walk on your tiptoes
    Don’t try “No-Doz”
    Better stay away from those
    That carry around a fire hose
    Keep a clean nose
    Watch the plain clothes
    You don’t need a weatherman
    To know which way the wind blows

    Robert Allen Zimmerman

  41. If it’s valid to use single tree as proxy for global temperatures, what’s wrong with using 77 scientists as proxy for global consensus? You really only need one, as long as he/she selected properly…

  42. Many skeptics believe that “human activity” has a significant upward effect on temperature, but they’re thinking of land-use changes. The survey question looks like it was “loaded” to catch them in its sieve.

  43. Climatology has become so identified with the CACA Cult that few would enter the field without also being believers, or without having undergone indoctrination in its tenets. Alarmism isn’t the conclusion of most of these scientwists, it’s their launch pad.

    If they were skeptical and did enter the field, they would be unlikely to get grants, and so would be hard up for material to publish. If they nevertheless did write skeptical critiques of warmism, they’d have a hard time getting them published. (See the recent trouble Spencer had getting his paper published, or McIntyre et al.)

    OTOH, an alarmed alarmist is going to churn out all sorts of unlikely doomsday scenarios and get them published. (E.g., warming is causing bats to die off–a now-debunked thesis published twice in Nature, while papers skeptical of that idea were rejected.)

    Incidentally, were those polled guaranteed anonymity? If not, that might well have inhibited a few skeptics from participating.

    So it’s not surprising the percentage of much-published climatologists is high. It’s so high it’s suspiciously high (for the reasons I mentioned above).

    The survey didn’t ask these very relevant questions, I presume because in a previous poll only half the responders agreed that the results will be catastrophic is nothing is done:

    Do you think the warming will continue?
    How likely is the warming to be catastrophic?

    (Or maybe those questions were asked, but the publicity about the survey didn’t mention them, because the answers weren’t to their liking.)

  44. hey guys/mods – I posted this a while ago – did it get lost in the ether??
    Is this ‘thesis’ available online anywhere? I’d like to know the real figures!
    Also, as an earth scientist, I certainly don’t recall being asked about AGW, or seeing anything about it – so presumably, they only asked US earth scientists folks?
    And finally, if the MSc was awarded on the basis of a fraudulent or flawed thesis, (what did it actually conclude?) surely that cannot be correct (its some years ago since I did mine, but a thesis would normally be reviewed by at least one external reviewer/examiner?)

  45. Doran considers ill-informed on the subject. “Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon,”

    Contrast this with what climatologist Marcel Leroux wrote:
    “basic knowledge about the real mechanisms of meteorological phenomena and about the processes whereby climatic modifications are transmitted, is necessary for the analysis and understanding of climatic evolution, across all scales of intensity, space and time.”

    Doran is an ignoramus. Period.

  46. Kind of like polling all “scientists” who identify themselves as cold fusion scientists and asking them if cold fusion is real.

  47. The paper at http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf is more to my mind a political document rather than the true reporting of a survey. A number of commentators here have referred to how the questions were loaded and I agree.
    Disregarding that point there’s this statement ‘In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total).’ Now I don’t know whether a meteorologist, geologist, paleontologist, earth scientist or physicist just to name a few would list ‘climate science’ as an area of expertise. If not then a huge slice of what affects climate is immediately disregarded. If so they’ve probably got an exaggerated sense of their own knowledge.
    I’m not a scientist so howl me down if I’m wrong but if I’m right then the study is skewed even as to the 79.
    Then there’s the issue of ‘publishing on climate change.’ Hmmm….I wonder how many skeptics would fit into this group. From my reading most skeptic scientists stick to their area of expertise and publish papers on that without specifically mentioning those magic mushroom words ‘climate change.’

    Then there’s the last paras “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The
    challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to
    policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate
    among scientists.” (Neglecting the point that the word ‘scientists’ depended on the authors’ perception of who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.)
    Now that’s a political marketing statement and may have been worth the graduate funding but it has no place in the study of a survey called ‘Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change’ produced at a University Science School.

  48. The debate is over…97% of people who derive their income from anthropogenic global warming believe in anthropogenic global warming. What a shocking discovery! A Nobel Prize contender for 2011.

  49. One thing I find rather well interesting.

    Of the claimed 2500 scientists and the IPCC. You’ll find some of those 2500 individuals aren’t actually scientists anyway. Just because an individual took part in the IPCC process. They were suddenly tagged as a scientist even though they had no science qualifications.

    It’s the same as if I got elected to a hospital board and I was suddenly tagged as a doctor because my name appeared on a hospital review report. Even though I didn’t have any medical qualifications.

  50. Climate alarmists keep talking about the consensus – we can use that to our advantage.

    Consensus – “agreement in the judgment or opinion reached by a group as a whole”

    That is what a consensus is. So far it extends only to those with an interest in maintaining their position as ‘experts’ and those who want to tell everyone else how to live. What are they prepared to give up for me to agree with some common position? Little that I can see. They don’t *want* to meet in the middle.

    Supporting nuclear power would be good. Highlighting expensive energy follies like solar and wind feed in tariffs would be good but amazingly the only high profile warmist I can think of who has done that is George Monbiot. Supporting free trade would be great – people in developing nations can then increase their wealth and people in developed nations can reduce their living costs. Money is redistributed by consent through trade and rather than have some grand global welfare scheme people decide for themselves what is required.(which in most cases won’t be adapting to climate change in any real sense but simply building better infrastructure)

    Why must taxes go up to combat climate change? Let Governments show some faith in their people by redirecting existing revenues rather than taking even more money off us.

  51. 75 out of 77 Climate Scientists blame Humans for Global Climate Change, in other news, 2 Climate Scientist are excommunicated for denialism and other heretical and slanderous beliefs.

  52. @David Ball:
    “It [Ice Age] IS coming, but no one can say with absolute certainty when.”

    The consensus on that is in – it’s going to start December 21, 2012. I did a survey.

    @TimM:
    “Total denial even when faced with verifiable facts” – isn’t that what’s usually said about the skeptics?

    Problem is, facts are meaningless in religious debate.

  53. Jim G says:
    January 4, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Having done survey research for 20 years I can tell you for certain that the wording of the questions, the sample technique, sample size, the interview method (personal, telephone, mail), question type (true/false, multiple choice, rating scale, open ended, etc.) and even the positioning of the questions relative to each other will effect outcome. Of course, cherry picking is best for obtaining the result one wants.

    Hopefully you mean “affect” and not “effect”.

  54. David Ball says:
    January 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Forgot to mention, cudos to Lawrence Solomon for his efforts!! All journalists should do as much homework as Solomon does.

    —————

    Kudos indeed! Hear hear!

    The Zimmerman thesis is indicative of how political correctness lowers academic standards. Just so long as you reach the right conclusions, the methods and evidence don’t have to add up. Students don’t get trained in the importance of using proper evidence to back up arguments – at least in the ‘important’ large universities. Why? It’s because the TAs (grad students) who are grading their work often don’t have the discernment or training themselves to separate the ‘appropriate’ argument from the evidence presented. The professors in these institutions are too busy researching and publishing — to add to the lustre of their CVs and universities — to care about how measly undergrads are really learning. Then there are also too many profs who care more about acceptance and saying the right things – and getting grants – than about upholding standards.

    There’s an excellent article “Progressives are Running the Universities” from the Jan 3 National Post by a sociology prof (!!!) at my old alma mater:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/01/03/ricardo-duchesne-progressives-are-running-the-universities/#more-23449

    Its very depressing for those of us who agonize over finding evidence to support arguments that most people will ignore anyway.

    I hope more alumnums (gender neutral modern inflection) figure out what is going on and refuse to knuckle under when their alma mater* comes begging for money. The problem is one can’t rant at the poor students who are making the begging calls.

    * The University of New Brunswick is a small and quite excellent university, and I do give it money. The places I have in mind in this complaint are considerably larger.

  55. I don’t know about all this correspondence of corespondents, but I do remember as a boy seeing my breath in the cold and the snow was much deeper then. Does that mean me and my grand kids are going to freeze or fry or both?

  56. “…This master’s thesis presents the results of the survey in an effort to advance the understanding of the global climate debate among scientists…”

    The thesis was no such thing. There was zero effort expended on advancing the “understanding of the global climate debate.” They took a simple-ass survey, then tortured the results until they gave the desired results, and hand-waved away the existence of a debate. No science was involved in this farrago of arithmetical distortions.

  57. Reminds me an old Soviet joke.

    Chairman of the Soviet Writers’ Union chapter in Tula region gives a speech:
    “Comrades! We made a considerable progress demonstrating the undeniable superiority of our socialist society and culture. There are now 267 registered members of the Writers’ Union in Tula Chapter, while before the October 1917 Revolution there was only a single writer living in our region, Lev Tolstoy…”

  58. I found the thesis is available (via a paywall) from Peter Doran home page at UIC. (but I refuse to download it even if it is only a minor sum!)
    anyway – on continuing a slow googling I came across this

    http://cdm15036.contentdm.oclc.org/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/p15036coll3&CISOPTR=741&filename=742.pdf

    which is another thesis proposal – quoting the zimmerman/doran data! this illustrates perfectly how one set of false or erroneous data gets spread through the system with nobody checking it out properly.

  59. sorry – I should have added that it only quotes the 97% figure – doesnt seem to show any actual data to back it up!

  60. I can believe lots of scientists believe in AGW simply because they have faith in a scientific method, assume climatologists are real scientists, and all they know about the subject came through nbc,cbs,and abc etc. The ones who spend 10 seconds looking at it find there are mountains of supposedly peer reviewed publications that support it, end of story.

    The real scientists will tend to remain somewhat skeptical about it, knowing that peer review is not the scientific method and that most publications turn out to flawed in a serious fashion.

  61. It seems that 97% is a magical number for the AGW crowd. Here is another study producing the same result: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.full.pdf+html

    The study claims that 97% of credible climatologists believe in AGW. Therein lies the rub: dissenting climatologists are not credible and therefore cannot be counted towards credible climatologists who do not believe in AGW.

    What are the qualifications of the authors? William R. L. Anderegg, Department of Biology, Stanford University is a biologist. James W. Prall, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto is a network monkey. Jacob Harold, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an activist. And, finally, Stephen H. Schneider, Woods Institute for the Environment is an activist. Not a climatologist or statistician in the bunch. If climate study results are only valid from “credible” climatologists then doesn’t it make sense that survey results are only valid from credible statisticians? Is it lost on the authors that they are not qualified to perform the study when their own logic is applied to them?

    It is Prall’s deeply flawed list ( http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table_by_clim.html ) is the driver for the “database of 1,372 climate researchers”. The AGW authors’ citation counts are inflated and many well cited non AGW authors are missing from the list.

  62. Scientific Studies prove that 97.3% of the people will believe any hogwash you make up, as long as you tell them Scientific Studies prove it and give them numbers…. ;-)

  63. I’ve been looking over Solomon’s article, and it’s riddled with misleading assumptions and other fine examples of shoddy journalism. I’m going to, piece by piece, show you deniers how he hood winked you all.

    “Until recently, they typically pointed to the number 2500 “

    “They” being journalists and pundits and not scientists or mathematicians. A journalist taking swipes at journalists bores me. A journalist implying that this is meaningful alerts …me to an incoming scam.

    “The two researchers started by altogether excluding from their survey the thousands of scientists most likely to think that the Sun, or planetary movements, might have something to do with climate on Earth”

    Wrong. The two researchers did not start by excluding people. How do I know this? I first began my exhausting attempt at debunking Solomon by reading the article he links to. It was slightly longer than one page.

    The two researchers generated their database from Keane and Martinez (2007). This is a Directory of Geoscience Departments and therefore was the deciding factor in the poll for who was involved.

    I furthered my study on this particular topic. I didn’t find it unreasonable or difficult to go to the authors website. So I found further information about his use of the database. In the author’s own words: “One of the most difficult parts of this study was building a data base. Professional societies (e.g. AGU) do not give out membership lists. So we were forced to build our own from the AGI book by scanning the entire directory and performing character recognition on the pages and then editing that into an email list.” No skullduggery here!

    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/survey_faq.html

    Even more telling is the answer to the second and third questions. If some form of selection bias had taken place, the authors certainly would have excluded petroleum geologists who have made a formal statement rejecting man made global warming.

    “The two researchers also decided that scientific accomplishment should not be a factor in who could answer”

    Incorrect. The paper specifically said how the list was obtained. The names were gathered from another paper that listed “all geosciences faculty at reporting institutions, along with researchers at state geologic surveys associated with local universities, and researchers at U.S. federal research facilities”. Solomon could not have possibly missed this; it took up half the paragraph he was complaining about. As I stated above, he could have avoided this mistake with just a minimum of study.

    “about 1,000 of those surveyed did not have a PhD, some didn’t even have a master’s diploma.”

    This is basic math! 3146 completed the survey with more than 90% having PhD’s. This means less than 315 people involved didn’t have a PhD. Note that this information is contained within the same paragraph. Now lets just assume he didn’t lie, and instead just say that he can’t do math to save his soul.

    “Nevertheless, most didn’t consider the quickie survey worthy of response –just 3146, or 30.7%, answered the two questions on the survey”

    Manipulation at its finest. This is exactly the response rate one would expect to find with a volunteer survey of professionals. That is why the paper was specific and said “This is a typical response rate for web-based surveys”, but that’s not all!! Oh no, not only did he miss the qualifier that this is typical, he also missed the TWO papers that they used as evidence to support their claim.

    “Worthy of a response” indeed.

    “In any case, the two researchers must have feared that an 82% figure would fall short of a convincing consensus”

    Or they did show that the majority of scientists with knowledge of the subject support the questions asked about Global Warming? Upon further refining of the poll so it includes only experts in the field, the results show almost no disagreement at all. I am not sure what definition of “consensus” Solomon is using but its not one I am familiar with.

    “Once all these cuts were made, 75 out of 77 scientists of unknown qualifications were left endorsing the global warming orthodoxy.”

    Unknown? It said who they are. 79 people who identify themselves as climate scientists and 100% of them have published more than half of their recent papers on the subject. This also likely bumps out anyone without a PhD as they often don’t even get a co-author mention on a paper let alone publish multiple papers as lead author. Feel free to ask the authors of the paper though; they have been far from secretive about respondents’ qualifications so far.

    So once all the cuts are made and the most qualified, informed, and active scientists in the field of climate science cast their vote… the claim of a consensus remains unrefuted.

    These are my major objections with Solomons piece. I am sure you would agree that a journalist who has written books on the subject and gets paid for his work should, at the very least, be able to read a paper accurately. Does he not have some sort of obligation to report his findings honestly and accurately? Do you think that the general public would spend the time to analyze both his review and the paper he was criticizing to see if they are being manipulated? Intentional or not Solomon is dishonest in his reporting of this paper. I have supported my claims and stand by my statements – Solomon is a crank and he conned you into thinking he had debunked the paper.

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